Falcons vs. Eagles
Sun., Oct. 17, 1:00 PM ET
Radio: 94 WYSP, Sirius 125
Falcons safety William Moore races to scoop up a fumble after a big hit from LB Curtis Lofton...Eagles must notch up their offensive game plan to account for the increasingly physical and speedy play of a much improved Atlanta defense.
A sunny and blustery day in the Delaware Valley...hot coffee on the deck...I ponder a lone eagle (yes, eagles as a protected species are coming back nicely along the mid-Atlantic coastal regions) as he glides a high thermal, far above the crazy ground winds. I then realize: Kevin Kolb has a chance to become a better quarterback, maybe even a very good one, if he gets to the place where this lone bird of prey is right now, far beyond my vantage point--- seeing the whole field, while calmly installed beyond the fast and furious fray.
It's a theory of quarterback evolution that once a young QB learns to confidently read the opposing safeties and account for their directional keys while under center before the snap, he is well on his way to adjusting to the faster pace and harder-hitting fury of NFL defenses.
Kolb is getting there. But his biggest test so far is coming on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons (4-1).
The Falcons' defensive unit is leading the league in interceptions with 10, by nine different players. They have 11 sacks by six different players. They've recovered three fumbles...all of this in a span of five games.
“I think it’s a product of playing fast,” Atlanta DC Brian VanGorder said. "Again, for some of our younger players the game is slowing down for them. They are seeing things better. But mainly it comes from a group playing hard and playing faster.”
Apparently the older Falcon players are still bringing it hard and fast, too. Big DE John Abraham (6-4, 263, 11th year, South Carolina) is certainly still bringing it, and getting pressure on Kolb will be Big John's mission. The Eagles say they are starting inexperienced 3rd-year tackle King Dunlap opposite Abraham (LT Jason Peters is out with a sore knee). This is not a favorable match-up for the Eagles.
Rookie defensive tackle Corey Peters, the team’s third round draft pick, has been a force and must also be accounted for by Kolb and the Eagles pass-protection. “He’s still has a lot of work to do, but he’s a good young player,” VanGorder said. “He’s been real solid for us here through five games.”
The Falcons' pass defense will be based on a fast and furious pass rush. “It starts with a good pass rush,” VanGorder said. “The pass rush has been more consistent for us this year. Again, you guys like to look at sacks and we like sacks too, but pressure on quarterbacks and how you affect the quarterback has been real solid for us.”
VanGorder has been pleased with first round pick LB Sean Weatherspoon, too. However, he’s likely to miss Sunday’s game.
For our armchair reference, here are the three key match-ups for the game as seen by veteran Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer D. Orlando Ledbetter:
Falcons CB Dunta Robinson vs. Eagles WR DeSean Jackson: Robinson has been strong in run support, but receivers have gotten open deep. Last week, Joshua Cribbs was open deep, but Jake Delhomme overthrew him. Jackson has just five catches for 43 yards over the last two games. However, he had 135 and 153 yards receiving in each game that Michael Vick started at quarterback. "I’m just not really having the opportunity to make these huge plays like I’ve been doing," Jackson said.
Falcons MLB Curtis Lofton vs. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy: The Eagles rank first in the NFL in yards per carry with 5.3, thanks in part to Vick's scrambles. McCoy has five rushing touchdowns, which is second in the league. The Eagles average 130.4 rushing yards per game. Lofton and the Falcons are swarming to the ball on defense and held Cleveland to 40 yards rushing last week.
Falcons LT Sam Baker vs. Eagles DE Trent Cole: Baker appears to have settled down after a bumpy start to the season. He's facing another major challenge in Trent Cole, whose 45 sacks since 2006 rank third in the NFL behind Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and Minnesota's Jared Allen. Cole was part of the Eagles' unit that held the Falcons scoreless until the final play of the game last season.
To Ledbetter's featured match-ups, I would add a corollary: Mr. Kolb, know where strong safety William Moore is at all times...…he has come roaring back after a few nagging injuries and he is lighting it up right now.
Meanwhile, the Eagles defensive unit has plans to disrupt a homecoming game for Falcons QB Matt Ryan... yes, homecoming in a way, as Ryan grew up not far from the Linc in Exton, PA....and he grew up rooting for the Eagles.
But this column will remain focused today on what Kolb's going to see on Sunday. The Falcons play hard, attacking, but position-solid defense. In other words, they don't overrun plays. This means Kolb will be given very few openings on any brief opportunities he sees to exploit the pressure that's coming. This is the part of the game I'll be realistically anxious about, but also cautiously optimistic: Can Kolb rise above the calculated madness and calmly survey the safeties and make his adjustments on the fly? Kind of like an eagle riding a high thermal...I'm betting he can.
TailGate Recipe: Today I'm taking a smaller cut of beef and adapting a great recipe for Convection Roast Beef by GK Brizer so that it can be cooked under a grill cover on a rotating spit. Brizer's important warning on this adaptation: do not overcook.
Brizer's Roast Beef (Convection Oven recipe adapted for Grill)
"ok,..doing a well seasoned beef convection roast this eve,...my gmish?...an herb based salt rub with flat beer, mustard seeds, and pickle juice/ olive oil marinate,....what's on your table?,.....damnbri....oh yea,..and some Spuds..."
1 3-to-5-lb (1.5 to 2.5 kg) roast beef 3 tbsp (50 mL) fat of your choice 1 tbsp (15 mL) dry mustard Cream together the fat and mustard. To adapt recipe to the GRILL, rotate on the spit in your gas grill while under grill cover so you can keep an eye on the temperature. Test the meat frequently for tenderness so that you do not overcook. That would ruin everything this recipe has to offer...
Pat the roast dry with absorbent paper.
Spread the mustard butter over the meat.
Sprinkle paprika generously over the top fat.
If you have a combination microwave-convection oven, place a rack in the oven ceramic tray.
Preheat oven to 350Â°F (180Â°C) for 15 minutes.
Set a plate under the rack.
Place the roast on the rack and cook at 350 F (180Â°C) for 10 minutes per pound (500 g) for rare, 15 minutes per pound (500 g) for medium or 20 minutes per pound (500 g) for well done.
When the roast is cooked, make your gravy as for any other roast.
1 3-to-5-lb (1.5 to 2.5 kg) roast beef
3 tbsp (50 mL) fat of your choice
1 tbsp (15 mL) dry mustard
Cream together the fat and mustard.
To adapt recipe to the GRILL, rotate on the spit in your gas grill while under grill cover so you can keep an eye on the temperature. Test the meat frequently for tenderness so that you do not overcook. That would ruin everything this recipe has to offer...